Sunday, February 14, 2010


Yesterday morning Larry and I visited Jon's grave. The snow here in Northern Virginia is still deep, at least 2 feet and drifted higher in many places, and his grave is in the center of the cemetery, a long, snowy walk. But I could not go home until I made a final, private good-bye.

We tried walking in from one end of the cemetery, but the deep snow was too difficult--well over my knees in many places. After about 50 feet of hard going, we turned back. At the other side of the cemetery we found that the road was plowed but chained off. We drove up to the chain, got out and walked in.

Snow-covered graves stretched on each side of the road, serene in the silence of deep winter. Jon's grave is close to a stone chapel, shaded by a large sycamore tree. Beside him in a grave over 100 years old lies a veteran of the Civil War. Other old graves surround his site; for me the old stones are a source of comfort, a reminder that people still care for those laid beneath them, even these many years later. While at one time I thought cremation was what I wanted, I have come to realize that a grave is a place to go to reflect and remember those who have left us, and a place that remains for many, many years, even when those of us with immediate memory of the person at rest are gone.

We stayed a short while, looking at the mountain in the distance with one small white cloud hovering near its top, at the snow-covered fields with their dark board fences beyond the cemetery, at the branches of the sycamore that stretched beseechingly to heaven. The sound from cars passing on Route 15 was muffled by the heavy quiet of this place.

Leaving was difficult. Each step felt like I was dragging lead weights on my legs. One foot in front of the other, blinded with tears and yet not unhappy--simply sorrowful, which is different from sadness or unhappiness. I am learning these definitions intimately and trying to get to a place where the hurt is not so great. I know it is there; I found it after the death of my parents 5 years ago. I think this time the search for it will take more time and the journey will be a difficult one.

Today we return to West Virginia, taking advantage of a break in the weather to make the trip over the mountains. There is little to do here but wait for documents and paperwork that finalize the ending of life and the arrangements for the future of his family. I will need to come back soon, but even knowing that leaving is not something I want to do. How to go back to the everyday of getting up and going to work and caring about my job? How to plan storytelling programs and present them? There are many hurdles ahead, and leaving this cocoon where I am surrounded by Jon's life and family is like tearing out my heart.

But leave we must. So in an hour or so we'll be in the car, and back to the other cocoon that has always brought me comfort.


Susan at Stony River said...

I wish you a safe trip, and comfort when you're home. I'm glad you were able to make it back to the cemetery.

You've reminded me of when my father died (I was young) and that day, we had to go out to get something, I don't remember what. But the world was full of people going about their ordinary day, and for some reason that just hurt so much. My world had ended; how could people still go to McDonald's?

Little things are so surprising in their comfort or pain at such a time.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Find comfort wherever you can, Sue - and remember the good times.


Beautiful words about the hardest thing. Appreciate your sharing it with us. Grateful for the comfort you found. Wishing you safe travel and many blessings.

Nessa said...

Have a safe trip home. You and your family are in my thoughts.

Debbie Couture said...

Sue, I can feel your pain but do know that you will feel happiness again. I can understand what you are saying. You and Jon's family continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. Lots of people are there to hold you up. Take your time.

laoi gaul~williams said...

safe travels sue

Lee said...

Sorrowful yet not unhappy. That's an interesting way to put it. I hope you are able to find "that place" you mentioned, as soon as it's right.

Janet, said...

Have a safe trip,Susanne.I know it is not nowhere near what you have went through, but I lost a baby when I was almost 5 months along. I felt so lonely for a long time, because I no longer had my little baby inside me, but it brought me closer (if that's possible) to my other children. It will take a while, but the pain will subside.

Country Whispers said...

Once home in "your" cocoon you will find peace and happiness. It will take time but it will slowly find you.
That whole that will forever be in your heart is the space where we keep memories to never be forgotten.
Cherish those memories and use them to build strength from.
Be safe in your travels today!

Granny Kate said...

My friend died on Saturday and I've been walking a path of grieving and making my way back from it. You said it all with the title of yesterday's entry -- The Next Step: An Adventure. For us, we just take the next step that's in front of us to take. For our loved ones gone from this side of the veil, it's an adventure we can't imagine. We'll miss them. But in some ways, that seems strange. Because they're not gone.

Deborah Wilson said...

I don't know what to say, Sue...So, just know that we are all here for you in spirit. I hope that you will find peace in your heart soon.

Jason Burns said...

As always, we're still here for you in Morgantown, ready to take the journey with you.

Keep smilin'!

Pam said...

How to go back to the everyday? You just do. You remind yourself to breathe in, to put one foot in front of the other, you allow yourself the occasional "crawl under a rock and hide" day.

I remember, when senseless tragedy struck my family, I suddenly knew the meaning of the word "profound."

Be good to yourself. And just focus on about a 1/2 day at a time. Accomplish that and the rest will follow.


Joey and Tracy said...

I can feel every emotion in every word you write. Writing will help bring about the healing in your broken heart. You WILL be able to go back to a sense of normality at some point and continue your storytelling. How could you not as it is your passion. There are steps to grieving, each step may seem slow and agonizing at times, but each one has a purpose. May you find strength as each day passes. May all the wonderful memories help you along the way.


Maggie and Roger said...

We love you Sue.
We just love you so much.

Anonymous said...

Sue--My older brother died 40 years ago on February 14th at the ripe old age of 28. Time does help heal, yet after all this time I still can remember the sorrow, at times even feel it. With the help of your memories, your family and friends, your cocoom, you will find relief.
Thinking of you and wishing only the best--
Susan(Gilmer Public)

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